Human Rights

New documentary focuses human rights film festival


What: 17th Annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

When: 7 pm Thu., Feb. 16 -25

Where: Various locations


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

For 17 years, the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival has explored far corners of the world, documenting injustice and hardship, but always with a bittersweet tang that the human spirit will endure and in some cases triumph. The festival’s overarching message is that we must approach the challenges of social and economic justices with eyes wide open—but also with an open heart that while we struggle all is not lost.
We come to know, also, that injustice and hardship hit close to home. And ironically it is the instability of home, the lack of available homes, and homelessness itself that are Bellingham’s most public emergent social concerns.

Functional Zero

For the past four years filmmakers Fredrick Dent and Lisa Spicer have documented homelessness in Bellingham, focusing first on the most vulnerable. But in the best tradition of documentarians, they’ve not lost touch with their subjects.

Their latest installment, the fourth in the series to be presented at this year’s festival, returns to some of their earlier character studies. Their film, “Functional Zero,” follows the lives of several homeless men and woman in Bellingham.

“We have watched people go from the camps to stable housing,” Dent said. “It is wonderful to maintain these relationships over time. We are able to to a longer view with some important characters from the series.

“We don’t know what’s next,” Dent said, noting that his partnership with Spicer has dissolved. “I want to continue in the same same tradition of solo documentary production. There is more that needs to be done with homeless In Bellingham, and what happens remains to be seen. I’m open to it.”


Thurs., Feb.16

Our Future: Optimism and a call to action for our planet’s future. (2016/USA/4 min)
7PM and 9pm, Pickford Film Center
Disobedience: Documents a new phase of the climate movement: courageous action that is being taken on the front lines of the climate crisis on every continent, led by regular people fed up with the power and pollution of the fossil fuel industry. [2016/USA/41 min]
7:05 and 9:05pm, Pickford Fim Center

Fri., Feb. 17

Ode to Lesvos: Headlines have focused on the tragic aspects of the unfolding human drama in the Aegean and Mediterranean from the Syrian dislocation. This film tells another story—the inspiring response of islanders who opened their hearts to the refugees and whose positivity drove them to rescue people from the sea, give shelter, and provide food and water. [2016/USA/5 min]
7pm, FCA
The Journey: Follows the dangerous sea journey of a Syrian refugee to safe haven in Europe. [2016/USA/70 min]
7:05pm, FCA
Functional Zero: See Review. [2017/USA/56 min]
7pm, FCC

Sat., Feb. 18

Chau, Beyond the Lines: Inspiring story of a Vietnamese boy who achieves his dream to become an artist amidst a challenging disability from Agent Orange. Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary, Short Subject. [2011/USA/30 min]
12:15pm, PFC
The Power of the Weak: Describes the Cuban health care and educational system as experienced by Jorgito, born with cerebral palsy in 1993. [2015/Germany/47 min]
1pm, PFC
Red Power Energy: A provocative film from the American Indian perspective that re-frames today’s controversial energy debate while the fate of the environment hangs in the balance. [2016/USA/57 min]
2pm, DPL
Women Are the Answer: The global population has passed the 7 billion mark and India will soon overtake China as the most populous nation in the world, but one state in southern India has found the solution. The unique history of Kerala and ‘the Kerala Model’ is outlined, using it as an example of achieving population control in developing countries without coercion. [2015/Australia/91 min]
3:30pm, DPL
Requiem for the American Dream: Through interviews filmed over four years, Noam Chomsky unpacks the principles that have brought us to the crossroads of historically unprecedented inequality – tracing a half-century of policies designed to favor the most wealthy at the expense of the majority—while also looking back on his own life of activism and political participation. [2016/USA/73 min]
7pm, FCA

Sun., Feb. 19

Red Power Energy
12pm, FCA
Overburden: When an errant spark ignited the methane leaking in the Upper Big Branch mine in 2010, a fireball ripped through miles of underground tunnels in Appalachia’s coal country, killing everything it touched—including 29 men. In the explosion’s aftermath, a right-wing pro-coal activist joins forces with a tree-hugging grandmother to take down the most dangerous coal company in the United States. [2015/USA/65 min]
1:30pm, FCA
Chicano Legacy-40 Anos: Since 1971, the Chicano movement has been at the forefront of Chicano rights through it’s political activism and artwork. This documentary reveals the story of how one artist together with students and faculty were able to create the first permanent minority art installation on the campus of the University of California San Diego. [2011/USA/30 min]
2pm, WM
Sad Happiness: Explores the lives of U.S. citizen children and their undocumented parents through the story of one extended Zapotec family. Shot in Oregon and Oaxaca, Mexico, and narrated by eleven-year old Cinthya, the film follows Cinthya’s trip to her parent’s home community of Teotitlán del Valle with her godmother. [2015/USA/39 min]
3pm, FCA
Sin Pais: “Without country” bears witness to undocumented workers. In 1992, Sam and Elida Mejia left Guatemala during a violent civil war and brought their one-year old son, Gilbert, to California. For 17 years they have worked multiple jobs to support their family, paid their taxes, and saved enough to buy a home. A decade later, they became deeply entangled in the U.S. immigration system. [2010/USA/20 min]
4pm, FCA
Campesino: Did you know migrant labor is essential to U.S. food production? You will, after you watch this short film.[2016/USA/5 min]
4:30pm, FCA
Women Are the Answer
7pm, FCA

Mon., Feb. 20

National Bird: In Afghanistan, a shadow war of invisible, ruthless and unaccountable soldiers is being waged in the sky and on the ground. This is the age of the drone and Afghanistan is the experimental field on which the ethics and possibilities of a deadly new technology are being determined. [2016/USA/72 min]
7pm, FCA

Tues., Feb. 21

Red Power Energy
6pm, NWIC
Chicano Legacy-40 Anos
2:30 pm, SQF
Sin Pais
3pm, SQF
Requiem for the American Dream
5:30, BTC
Do Not Resist: Starting on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, as the community grapples with the death of Michael Brown, this film offers a stunning look at the current state of policing in America and a glimpse into the future. The Tribeca Film Festival winner for Best Documentary. [2016/USA/72 min]
7pm, FCA

Weds., Feb. 22

Red Power Energy
11am, BTC
A River Between Us: Documents the largest river restoration project in American history. Nearly three hundred miles in length, flowing from southern Oregon to northern California, the vast communities of the Klamath River have been feuding over its water for generations, and as a result, bad blood has polluted their river and their relationships equally. [2014/USA/90 min]
12pm and 6pm, NWIC
4:15 WCC
Death by Design: Explores this question and uncovers a global story of damaged lives, environmental destruction and devices that are designed to die. You won’t look at your iPhone quite the same way again. [2016/USA/73 min]
7pm, BPL
Functional Zero
7pm, BHS
When I See Them, I See Us: From Ferguson to Gaza, from Baltimore to Jerusalem, from Charleston to Bethlehem, there is a connection, a violence that is manifest in bullets and batons and tear gas. Black-Palestinian solidarity intends to interrupt that process – to assert our humanity – and to stand together in an affirmation of life and a commitment to resistance. [2016/USA/3 min]
7pm, FCA

Thurs., Feb. 23

12pm and 6pm NWIC
A River Between Us
4:15pm, WCC
Do Not Resist
7pm, SQF
Red Power Energy
7pm, BUF
Just Eat It!: Dumpster diving divas examine the issue of food waste from farm to fridge. They vow to stop buying groceries and for six months to survive exclusively on discarded food. The myths behind corporate food production and marketing make for easy pickings as the directors dismantle best-before dates and show how our idea of “perfect produce” encourages us to discard perfectly edible and nutritious food. [2016/USA/73 min]
7pm, BPL
Requiem for the American Dream
7pm BHS
Death by Design
7pm, FCA

Fri., Feb. 24

Three to Infinity: Beyond Two Genders: People who identify as neither male nor female: agender, gender neutral, gender queer, and more are profiled. Meet teenagers, parents, singles and couples, younger and older people who guide you into their world, where gender is not limited to male or female but is a spectrum of possibilities—where the future is the present. [2015/USA/43 min]
1:30pm, WCC
The Occupation of the American Mind: Takes an eye-opening look at pro-Israel public relations efforts within the U.S. Featuring leading observers of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the film explores how the Israeli government, the U.S. government, and the pro-Israel lobby have joined forces, often with very different motives, to shape American media coverage of the conflict in Israel’s favor.  [2016/USA/86 min]
7pm, FCA

Sat., Feb. 25

See them again in the Fairhaven College Auditorium:
Sand Wars
12pm, FCA
Functional Zero
1:15pm, FCA
Three to Infinity: Beyond Two Genders
2:45pm, FCA
A River Between Us
7pm, FCA


PFC: Pickford Fim Center
BPL: Bellingham Public Library
BHS: Bellingham High School
BTC: Bellingham Technical College
BUF: Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship
DPL: Deming Public Libary
FCC: First Congregational Church, Bellingham
NWIC:  Northwest Indian College
SHS: Sehome High School
SQF: Squalicum High School Forum
WCC: Whatcom Community College, Syre 104
WM: Whatcom Museum

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